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  • Patricia Glover

Avoiding Service of Legal Documents

When a person is named as a Defendant/Respondent in a legal matter involving civil litigation, traffic violations, divorce, child support, tax code violations, and sometimes even criminal matters, a Summons is issued directing the person to either appear in Court or respond in writing to the opposing party(ies).


Depending on the type of legal matter, the Summons may be served by a number of different means. In most instances, the Summons must be served by Process Server, Certified/Restricted Mail, or by Sheriff (unless, of course, the Defendant/Respondent is willing to voluntarily accept service). The case cannot move forward until the Defendant/Respondent is properly served.


Oftentimes, a Defendant/Respondent will know about a pending legal action long before he or she is served. For example, if a person has had a car repossessed, he or she can expect a civil lawsuit to follow.


Many people think that if they are able to avoid service, the legal claims will just go away. While this may be correct in theory, the filing party (Plaintiff/Petitioner) has many options available to “serve” an evading party. What this means is, even if a person avoids a process server and/or other means of legal service, the Court will not give up. The Court will allow the Plaintiff/Petitioner to serve the Defendant/Respondent by alternative means.


In Arizona, if the Plaintiff/Petitioner shows that other attempted means of service are impracticable, the Court will order that service may be accomplished in another manner. This decision is made between the Court and the Plaintiff/Petitioner without notice or input from the person who is to be served. In layman's terms, the Court will allow the Plaintiff/Petitioner to bring the Defendant/Respondent into the case by whatever terms the Court deems appropriate.


Alternative service can include any combination of things (e.g., service by U.S. mail, substituted service, drop serve, publication, social media, email, etc.) The issue that the Defendant/Respondent is then faced with is he or she might never see some of these types of “service”. If the Defendant/Respondent is not aware that he or she has been formally brought into a legal cause of action, what are the odds that he or she will timely respond to the legal action to protect his or her rights?


In conclusion, there really is no way to “avoid” service. As a Defendant/Respondent, your best bet is to accept service so that you are in a position to defend your rights in a legal matter. Otherwise, the Plaintiff/Petitioner will serve you through alternative means and will likely obtain a default ruling against you.


If you find yourself in a situation where you believe you may be involved in a legal matter, contact Glover Court Solutions to discuss your options. While, we cannot give legal advice, we can provide general legal information to help you navigate your case. We also network with dozens of qualified attorneys throughout the Valley whom we would be happy to refer you to... in the unlikely event we are unable to help .



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